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Topic Options
#350383 - 05/30/03 07:38 PM Stopped playing
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hello everybody.

Recently I have been so excited with my new teacher and practiced so much for her. Now I'm getting sick (played for 9 years, she told me I learned the "wrong" way (which is probably true) and need to "re-learn" certain things) of hearing "that's too hard for you" on everything I suggest. After 9 years it feels awkward to "go back." I started 2 months ago and I am still working on the Chopin op. 10 no. 5 study and 2 by MOszkovsky. She says I need the "right technique" and that if I listen to her and get the funudamentals I will be able to play anything, very well, in some years. I need to listen to her. So I did listen to her, and I worked eagerly. I do not question her intelligence or capabilities; however, I now see myself "fading" in enthusiasm. I no longer want to practice at all after just 2 weeks ago DYING to play. It's really awkward, as though I'm backfiring at myself- I want to become really good, but it takes so much time. But then I get annoyed with my teacher's wanting to help me when I practice, and get irritated at her! It's so weird. I want to practice and wait with the hard pieces but yet when I practice I get annoyed about the time it takes and want to "move on." I honestly don't know why. But I don't practice at all any more and I want to, yet I don't! My teacher is really good and I have a feeling that if I listen to her, maybe in 10 years or so I will be able to play ANYTHING well, with the right technique and all. But the thing is, I am rather impatient. It takes an awful lot of time (and don't get grumpy and say "it WILL take time"- is it normal to spend months on a piece, not finish it, and not even play it at half the speed intended?!!!?!?!?!?!?) for me and even before when I practiced for hours, my teacher (whom I DO believe) said I was getting somewhere but it's hard to tell. Before, it was hard enough learning the notes and fingering. Now, I have to think about how my fingers move, posture, legato/staccato, left hand staccato, playing horizontally not vertically, and the list goes on for ever. So much I have to think about, all this "light, virtuoso technique" which I KNOW will benefit me, but I see no direct effect of my practicing, if you know what I mean.

The other option is to just quit and play by my own, but the thought of not taking lessons anymore and getting really GOOD bugs me. And it also bugs mme to practice. I want at least an hour's repertoire to play (is that too much to ask!!???) but almost finishing 10th grade, with 2 and a quarter years left before college, 3 months on one piece which lasts 2 minutes anyway seems weird. Yes, "it will give you the fundamentals" and all, but what do you think? WIll it go quicker once I get all this Russian technique-stuff down!?

I am so confused- has anyone ever had this kind of "I want to/don't/mad with teacher/don't want to practice/STUBBORN feeling? I try to get over it but every time I sit down at the piano I get irritated, and just slam it. Almost as though I'm getting mad at people trying to make me good and yet I want to become good, want to practice, but feel I'm getting nowhere and want to go on to big pieces and at least have ONE recital which is only mine. (e.g. not 50 other kids playing). I am fed up with myself for being so stubborn, but this truly is a problem.

Sigh.

Any input is warmly accepted.

Thanks,
BeePhlat

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#350384 - 05/30/03 08:37 PM Re: Stopped playing
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
I know what you mean. No matter how advanced or how many years someone has been playing there often is a time when he needs to review what he has learned and what is still missing. What I am doing, and recommend you do, is to find interest in the smallest particle of practicing.

For example, instead of just wanting to play a Chopin etude up to speed, work on a simple piece, such as the C major Bach Invention, and try to get the maximum finger legato possible while listening to the 2 voices of couterpoint. The essence of becoming a good pianist is not built on being able to rapidly and mindlessly play a virtuoso work, but rather on the myriad of intricate details that need to be mastered for a really polished performance.

Sometimes, going back to easier things is more productive than it appears to be. While the Chopin etudes will be on the shelf, you will mature musically and the gaps that you might of missed will be more accesibily filled in. This is a challenge unto itself, that when conquered, will alleviate most of your worries in seemingly more difficult repertoire.

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#350385 - 05/30/03 08:49 PM Re: Stopped playing
TomK Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/02
Posts: 2611
Glad to hear you stopped playing--can "stopped posting" be next?

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#350386 - 05/30/03 08:50 PM Re: Stopped playing
Anonymous
Unregistered


 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
I know what you mean. No matter how advanced or how many years someone has been playing there often is a time when he needs to review what he has learned and what is still missing. What I am doing, and recommend you do, is to find interest in the smallest particle of practicing.

For example, instead of just wanting to play a Chopin etude up to speed, work on a simple piece, such as the C major Bach Invention, and try to get the maximum finger legato possible while listening to the 2 voices of couterpoint. The essence of becoming a good pianist is not built on being able to rapidly and mindlessly play a virtuoso work, but rather on the myriad of intricate details that need to be mastered for a really polished performance.

Sometimes, going back to easier things is more productive than it appears to be. While the Chopin etudes will be on the shelf, you will mature musically and the gaps that you might of missed will be more accesibily filled in. This is a challenge unto itself, that when conquered, will alleviate most of your worries in seemingly more difficult repertoire.[/b]
Thanks Valarking for your advice, I will try and do what you said. Guess I'm not the only one! (But it sure is annoying, even when you WANT to play and then don't... aaargh! Confused myself!)

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#350387 - 05/30/03 08:59 PM Re: Stopped playing
CrashTest Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 4111
 Quote:
Originally posted by BeePhlatMinor :
Thanks Valarking for your advice, I will try and do what you said.

[/b]
er.. You mean thanks Crashtest, right?

\:D

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#350388 - 05/30/03 09:00 PM Re: Stopped playing
Anonymous
Unregistered


 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
er.. You mean thanks Crashtest, right?

\:D [/b]
Aaaah, sorry!!! I had just read a post by him in the coffee room and was a bit confused.

Crashtest.

That's right, sorry!

DeeSharp

(oops, wait a minute... that's not my name!!!)

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#350389 - 05/30/03 09:22 PM Re: Stopped playing
Ted2 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 790
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
BflatMinor:

Perhaps "enjoyment" is the key word for you because it is absent from your post. Playing the piano isn't all about discipline, achievement, comparison and technique. Unless these things produce heightened insight, awareness and love of the music then you might as well be playing a typewriter.

Is your teacher a real music lover ? Does she communicate this to you ? Or does she measure progess solely in terms of objective gymnastic change ? Music is all about joy and happiness, and reflects you as a human being in the deepest sense, not just as a seeker of comparative goals.

I'm all for giving any teacher the best possible effort for a reasonable period of time. However, teachers do exist, sadly many very highly qualified and skilled ones, who are not true music lovers. They love the achievements and the scholastic structures but not the music itself.

If you feel you have given her a fair go then maybe it really is time to look elsewhere. Only you can decide that.
_________________________
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley

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#350390 - 05/30/03 10:58 PM Re: Stopped playing
jodi Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 6959
Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
In pretty much any artistic/athletic endeavor, it's all about the basics. You can't skip over them, and you have to constantly re-affirm them. If you want to be really good, there's no getting around that part. Stick with it! \:\) Jodi

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#350391 - 05/31/03 07:08 PM Re: Stopped playing
richard_dup1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 192
Loc: philadelphia
BflatMinor:

I've been in your shoes, and in spite of all my admiration for my teacher, and in spite of his glorious reputation, I switched. Best thing I ever did! \:D (Well, that's an exaggeration, but some of the better things are X-rated). If your teacher doesn't have the right balance of criticism, patience, & support for you[/b], then try someone else. We're all individuals and have individual needs.

I had a similar experience recently with a dance instructor who told me that everything I had learned previously, all the technique, was wrong. It was really upsetting, but I tried hard to relearn everything, starting with the basics. After a few months of frustration, and in spite of his brilliance as a dancer (not[/b] teacher), I switched, which was the 2nd best thing I ever did (well, maybe the 43rd).

Don't be too quick to quit yet. Why not take a break from lessons for a while and just enjoy playing for yourself? Then go out & find a better teacher.

Good luck! \:\)
_________________________
Richard

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#350392 - 05/31/03 08:21 PM Re: Stopped playing
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13818
Loc: Iowa City, IA
This is a telling statement:

 Quote:
Originally posted by BeePhlatMinor:
just 2 weeks ago DYING to play[/b]
You may have been dying to play, but are you dying to practice? They're different things.

You also said:

 Quote:
...3 months on one piece which lasts 2 minutes anyway seems weird. Yes, "it will give you the fundamentals" and all, but what do you think?[/b]
Yes, it will help you out with fundamentals. I know a lot of pianists who work on Chopin etudes for years. It's not at all unusual to work on a short piece for three months, assuming you're working on other things as well.

Then you asked:

 Quote:
has anyone ever had this kind of "I want to/don't/mad with teacher/don't want to practice/STUBBORN feeling?"[/b]
The answer is a yes for lots of very good pianists, but they find the will and energy to practice anyway.

If you're really unhappy with your teacher, by all means get a new one. A good teacher might be able to get you motivated and working again, assuming you actually do want to practice at a high level.

Practicing at a high level is both very different from and a prerequisite for playing at a high level.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#350393 - 06/01/03 01:55 AM Re: Stopped playing
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
BeePhlatMinor,

You should be congratulated for expressing a difficult situation so well--clearly and candidly. Well done!

And I am astounded at the depth of the responses you have received (except TomK, what? Am I missing something here?).

I thought CrashTest's response was very profound. Ditto Ted2 from the other point of view.

 Quote:
3 months on one piece which lasts 2 minutes anyway seems weird.
It may seem weird, but that's just a misconception. (Here's one for you: As a computer programmer I can spend literally hours writing a computer program that takes just a few seconds to run!!!! Talk about weird.

Between Richard and Ted2 you've got both sides of the coin well articulated. It will be up to you to judge whether or not you trust your teacher.

Oh. Good luck to you. I hope you can reach a decision quickly and with relative ease.
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#350394 - 06/01/03 04:23 AM Re: Stopped playing
StanSteel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 646
Loc: Los Angeles
 Quote:
Originally posted by Bernard:
BeePhlatMinor,

You should be congratulated for expressing a difficult situation so well--clearly and candidly. Well done!

And I am astounded at the depth of the responses you have received (except TomK, what? Am I missing something here?).
[/b]
:D Ever heard of "Steinway/Etude/MichaelD" ?
_________________________
"War does not determine who is right; only who is left."

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#350395 - 06/01/03 04:35 AM Re: Stopped playing
StanSteel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 646
Loc: Los Angeles
Martin, listen,

First,
Stop for a minute and think. What do you want to play on a piano and why?

Second,
If your teacher is having you learn etudes only, then I think you should dump her, because that is ridiculous. You should work on more diverse pieces.

Third,
Decide if piano is your main thing.
Is it for FUN?
Or for a living?
I can guarantee you it will become much more fun when you set it to a secondary level. There are other things than just piano in life

Fourth,
Pick your two favorite composers. Start learning their entire repertoire "on your own", in order of increasing difficulty (e.g. short pieces, preludes, etudes, sonata, concerto) Do not jump to higher pieces until you have mastered the shorter and easier ones. After all they are your favorite pieces, so you don't want to mess them up.

Also, decide what type of music you want to play. It will help you recognize what technical exercises are useful.

Hope this helps,
I went through the exact same thing, a long time ago,

Stan
_________________________
"War does not determine who is right; only who is left."

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#350396 - 06/03/03 08:33 PM Re: Stopped playing
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon
Regarding practicing:

I am reading a book right now that is really getting me excited about practicing: it's called "With Your Own Two Hands: Self-Discovery Through Music" by Seymour Bernstein. While it has a yuppie title, the situations explained in the book are very-well put, with psychological evidence to back it up. It claims that, if music is truly a love in one's life, practice is a necessity in becoming what Bernstein refers to as an "integrated person". An integrated person is one who doesn't feel a need to separate their practicing/musical life from their personal life, and in fact uses one to progress the other.

In one section, it discusses the relationship with a teacher. Is your teacher really concerned about how well you do musically? Obviously, in your post, you have passion. Your teacher probably also knows this. This passion is part of your personal self--the bridge between the personal and musical selves for you. By caring about your musical self, it's very possible that your teacher is also expressing a care for you as a person. This relationship between you and your teacher is very precious. The teacher gives by teaching, and you in return give by practicing, which can be taken as a display of respect for the teacher's ideas and effort. If you don't feel like you want to provide this effort, or that your teacher isn't giving her part for your equivalent of practice, talk with her. Figure out where it is she sees you going, compared with where you want to go. It will improve the relationship if you decide to stay with her, and, if you leave, will help you in looking for a new teacher.

I just finished 10th grade also, so I know what it's like to be an impatient teenager. Hang in there.
_________________________
Musically,
Benjamin Francis
http://www.myspace.com/benjaminfrancis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
----------
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

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#350397 - 06/05/03 05:09 PM Re: Stopped playing
pianodevo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 836
Hi BeePhlatMinor,

You've written an important post, and others have given brilliant and pertinent answers!

My .02:

1) Read some interviews with concert pianists (the books by E. Mach are great). You'll see how others worked through things. John Browning, for example, states that EVERYONE dislikes practicing some of the time, and that for him it was 50% of the time! Very revealing.

2) There are many roads to town. I am certain you can find a teacher who is very sympatico with your nature, who can help you just as much technically as your current teacher.

3) I refused - in any kind of learning including piano, where there was a choice - to study with a teacher when I found myself being 'de-motivated' for longer than a coupla weeks, say. One very important part of a teacher's job IS TO MOTIVATE.

4) Piano isn't by any means all or even mostly 'technical' - rather it's having something to say (gotta have the chops, though). I really like Vladimir Ashkenazy's observation that the Russian pianists all have huge techniques, but almost all of them are extremely boring and have nothing to say.

"Never give up." \:D
_________________________
pianodevo

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#350398 - 06/05/03 05:48 PM Re: Stopped playing
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1518
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
4) Piano isn't by any means all or even mostly 'technical' - rather it's having something to say (gotta have the chops, though). I really like Vladimir Ashkenazy's observation that the Russian pianists all have huge techniques, but almost all of them are extremely boring and have nothing to say. [/b]

Pianodevo:

That's a point well worth thinking about. I don't, however, think the trap is at all restricted to Russians. As you say, it is necessary to develop "chops" sufficient to express your meaning. Beyond that there is a danger that any playing or creative activity will be undertaken for reasons of physical sensation instead of aural meaning, which consequence is fatal to music.

Players with phenomenal technique and general musical ability who have nothing to say certainly do seem to be sadly common. I cannot think of a satisfactory explanation why this is so.

Ashkenazy impresses me as a remarkably honest and down to earth person. I heard him play the Hammerklavier in Auckland here many years ago. He was entirely lacking in all the usual stage histrionics. He wore a neat but ordinary suit, smiled, sat down, played the piece, acknowledged the audience and looked happy. If asked questions he always answers in direct terms anyone can understand and puts on no airs or graces.
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

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#350399 - 06/06/03 09:06 PM Re: Stopped playing
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thank you everyone for your kind replies!

I really appreciate them, and I thank you a lot. Playing the piano is HARD. Ugh. But I will hang in there and think about your kind replies.

Thank you SO much for your time to reply, I appreciate it a lot.

BeePhlat

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#350400 - 06/06/03 10:46 PM Re: Stopped playing
valarking Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 2331
Loc: Dallas
 Quote:
Originally posted by BeePhlatMinor:
 Quote:
Originally posted by CrashTest:
er.. You mean thanks Crashtest, right?

\:D [/b]
Aaaah, sorry!!! I had just read a post by him in the coffee room and was a bit confused.

Crashtest.

That's right, sorry!

DeeSharp

(oops, wait a minute... that's not my name!!!)[/b]
That's ok, I'm so stunning that some people see me everywhere they look.
;\)

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